Examinations Commission denies that State exams will be marked by computers

The State Examinations Commission has insisted that no State exams will be marked by a computer.

The SEC said that reports suggesting that a new online marking system will see students' exams corrected by machines were "misleading".

Under the system being rolled out from this year, Leaving and Junior Cert exam scripts will be scanned electronically for the next three years.

However, the marking process itself will then be carried out by examiners, albeit on a computer rather than the traditional paper-based system.

The subjects which will be marked in this way at Leaving Certificate level are: Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, LCVP, and Politics & Society. At Junior Cycle level they include: English, French, Science and Business Studies.

The SEC successfully piloted online marking to mark Junior Certificate Higher Level French in 2016, and Junior Certificate Higher Level French and Junior Cycle English in 2017.

A spokesperson said: "Online marking facilitates high quality, reliable marking of candidates’ examination responses by examiners.

"There are many advantages to online marking both for the examiners and for the examination system as a whole. The online marking software is easy to use and there is no need for examiners to have a high level of computer literacy.

All examiners will be provided with comprehensive training in using the software and will also have access to a help-desk to provide the necessary back-up and support. In particular, online marking allows examiners to focus on the marking exercise, not on the administration of the marking.

As the calculation of marks is inherent in the system, online marking eliminates the possibility of errors being made by examiners in adding up, carrying-forward and transcribing marks.

"The adoption of online marking, a key objective in the SEC’s Statement of Strategy 2017-2021, represents a transformational change for the SEC which is in line with public service reform and modernisation objectives, and Government digital strategies.

"The move from a paper-based marking model to one which is technology enabled will provide more efficient service delivery and improved turnaround times, improved quality management and enhanced security."

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